COVID-19 and the Northern Virginia Housing Market

A lot has changed in the last week. A little over a week ago I was showing houses, having dinner with friends and shopping pretty normally.
But this week, things are different, very different.  But I am not here to write about the availability of toilet paper, I am a real estate agent, and I am going to tell you what has changed in real estate.
People are still buying and selling houses, just not nearly as many of them. And that is understandable. Some people have decided that this is not the time. It can wait while other people already have plans to move. We saw 352 homes go on the market in Fairfax County this week. Last year during this same week we saw 530 homes go on the market. So there are fewer homes on the market.

  • New addenda are being created, people are showing houses virtually, or with private showings. Open houses are being held on Facebook live. We are changing the way we do business because some people still need to or want to buy and sell.
  • The 30-year mortgage rates, that have typically for the last 50 years followed the 10 year treasury note, have not done so the last couple of weeks. People are seeing an increase in mortgage rates. Nobody expects that to stay that way long, but for the moment, rates are more volatile than ever.
  • FHA and the FHFA (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) have announced that they are suspending foreclosures for 60 days.

Yesterday I participated in a seminar about the impact this virus will have on the housing market. They went to great length to talk about whether this current financial crisis is like the recession of 2008 or more like the slowdown after 9/11.
What did these experts think?  They believe that what we are going through is more like the slowdown after 9/11. In 2001, we saw industries focused on discretionary spending like restaurants and airlines hit particularly hard because of fear, but housing actually appreciated. These experts predict that our current situation mirrors 2001 and we will see a surge later in the year in the housing market.  Of course no one has the power to know the future, but their comparison was a good one.
Like everyone, being at home, slowing down and having lots of time to reflect has made me very grateful for you, my colleagues and friends. And if I was honored enough to help you buy the house you are in, I hope you are enjoying it.

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